According to The Social Media Examiner’s recent Social Media Marketing Report, “The number-one advantage of social media marketing is generating exposure for the business, indicated by 85% of all marketers, followed by increasing traffic [to a website] (63%) and building new business partnerships (56%)”. With 65% of the marketers stating they are relatively new to social media, many questions arose as to how to implement it effectively without “wasting” a lot of time.
Let’s take a look at the overall Internet Marketing plan of a business to think about incorporating social media into that plan.
How are your potential customers finding you?
Traditional advertising such as word of mouth, TV, Yellow Pages, News Paper ads remain somewhat effective to get traffic to your business. Many of you have discovered that using the power of the internet through the search engines is making those methods nearly obsolete. Social media is an outstanding method to find people interested in what you offer and get traffic to your business.
An essential piece to marketing on-line is a Website & a blog. Most of you reading this will find that “old news”. The design, optimization, and content of the website and an informative blog will certainly be the hub of your internet marketing plan. Yet there is more to consider. You want people to find your website, visit it, stay for awhile and become a loyal customer.
The first step of an internet marketing plan is to ask yourself these questions: Have you carefully completed your market Research? Do you know if people are looking on-line for what you are selling? If people are searching on-line using the internet do you know what words they use to locate what you are selling or providing? These terms are known as your “Key Words”. It is important to have completed the “keyword research” to know if they are searching on line for a solution that you are providing.
The next step would be Search Engine Optimization, SEO – Designing the site and its content so that it is found by the search engines. This is not an exact science nor is it magic – experts in the SEO field understand specific things need to be in place so your site gets found. Having your site reviewed often brings to light details that are easily added to affect your search engine ranking.
Local businesses need to be maximizing their listings in Google Places, Yelp and other local map applications to get found quickly, locally. An optimized listing provides legitimacy and validates the content on your website increasing search engines recognition of your site.
Paid on-line advertising is another option. “Pay per click” ads through Google and Facebook are available. PR, articles, and blog posts drive significant traffic as well and many resources are free. The links back to your site from these resources again, legitimize your site. They “vote” for and provide validity of the authenticity of your website. These are just a few of the useful tools that can increase the number of potential clients to your site.
Social Media fits into this piece of the marketing plan by getting your message out there, increasing your visibility and building a following of people interested in your services.
Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and local networking groups are just a a few of the many social media options out there. Choose your plan carefully Map out the possible services and gradually incorporate those that make the best sense into your plan. Start with one piece. Gradually add in the other pieces.
“Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in order.” according to the Social Media Examiner.
Blogging is easily updated keeping content fresh. It is used to inform, educate and entertain opening the door for clients to interact. Build your expertise, talk to followers using the known words that engage – give them what they are looking for, solve their problems, offer them solutions and educate them. Here is where you want to make sure you “capture” their contact information – what do your customers need that will entice them to give you their contact information? Provide it to them, and follow up.
With the analytics available on-line, you can test and determine what works within your marketing plan. What pages are holding their attention? What pages are the ones they leave from? How long do they stay? What interests them?
Building relationships- encouraging loyal, returning customers through social media significantly adds to your overall marketing approach. It has been said it is cheaper to keep a customer than find a new one. This is the phase in which profits are made.
What is your business mindset?If you strive to be helpful and known as the local expert willing to educate your potential customers, you build trust and loyalty. As a consumer, what keeps you returning to your favorite businesses? It is these strategies that keep you prominently in your customers mind.
Follow up. Stay in touch. If you don’t have a way to get information to your customers through email, it is time to implement that plan. Email is an excellent, inexpensive way to do this.
Social Media is one piece of a strong marketing strategy implemented over time. A social media marketing plan is designed with your client and your business in mind. Where do your potential customers go to find information about the products or services you offer? If they are on-line – you should be as well. With a few tools and a great plan, you just might find this your favorite way to interact and relate with your customers. It is another dimension to networking. See you on-line!